VCSO: Pilot of small plane killed in crash in surf off New Smyrna Beach after takeoff from Edgewater's Massey Airport

Scene of fatal New Smyrna Beach plane crash on the beach / Headline Surfer®Photos for Headline Surfer® /
The identity of a female pilot alone in a small plane that crashed Tuesday night in shallow waters off New Smyrna Beach is expected to be released after an autopsy is performed and nearest relatives are notified.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- A lone woman pilot was killed when the plane she was piloting crashed into 3 feet of surf off New Smyrna Beach on Tuesday night, a Volusia County Sheriff's official said.

The Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible downed plane at 8:58 p.m. Tuesday night. Sheriff’s deputies along with New Smyrna Beach police, county beach units and county and city fire personnel responded to the scene.

"The first units arrived at 9:04 p.m. to find the plane’s wreckage about 20 feet off the shore, north of the Flagler Avenue beach approach in New Smyrna Beach," Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson told Headline Surfer® this morning. "A woman’s body was recovered from the water. While details are still being confirmed, the plane is believed to be a single-engine Cessna 152."

"The first units arrived at 9:04 p.m. to find the plane’s wreckage about 20 feet off the shore, north of the Flagler Avenue beach approach in New Smyrna Beach," Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson told Headline Surfer® this morning. "A woman’s body was recovered from the water. While details are still being confirmed, the plane is believed to be a single-engine Cessna 152."

The Volusia County Medical Examiner’s Office has taken possession of the pilot’s body, that of a 38-year-old woman, and is scheduled to conduct an autopsy this morning. The victim’s name will be released after her identity is confirmed through the autopsy and her family is notified of the death. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and will be responding to investigate the cause of the crash. An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration also is on-scene, with National Transportation Safety Board personnel expected later today.

The plane is believed to have taken off from the Massey Ranch Airpark in Edgewater. Just prior to the crash, the Daytona Beach tower reported getting a final radar hit from the plane about a quarter-mile offshore as it was turning back towards the beach.

"During flight, the pilot had contacted the tower indicating that she was having difficulty navigating through the weather and was trying to find the nearest airport to land the plane," Davidson said. "New Smyrna Beach Police were the first to reach the crash site and entered the ocean to pull the victim’s body from the water and bring it to shore with assistance from bystanders. Fearing there might be other occupants, New Smyrna officers with the assistance of a bystander flipped the plane over in the water."

Wreckage of small plane crash in NSB surf Tuesday night / Headline Surfer®"During flight, the pilot had contacted the tower indicating that she was having difficulty navigating through the weather and was trying to find the nearest airport to land the plane," Davidson said. "New Smyrna Beach Police were the first to reach the crash site and entered the ocean to pull the victim’s body from the water and bring it to shore with assistance from bystanders. Fearing there might be other occupants, New Smyrna officers with the assistance of a bystander flipped the plane over in the water."

But no other victims were found, he said.

Davidson said beach safety officers were then able to attach tow ropes to the plane to pull major pieces of the wreckage to the shore. Smaller pieces of the plane were also gathered up and placed on the beach to await the arrival of federal aviation authorities.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.